Pakistan foreign minister says ready to host SAARC summit, invites India to join virtually

Pakistan is ready to host the SAARC summit and India can join virtually if it is unwilling to come to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday, adding that the forum remains “dysfunctional” because of New Delhi’s “stubbornness.”

Jan 03, 2022
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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (File)

Pakistan is ready to host the SAARC summit and India can join virtually if it is unwilling to come to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday, adding that the forum remains “dysfunctional” because of New Delhi’s “stubbornness.” 

"I reiterate the invitation for the 19th SAARC summit. If India is not ready to come to Islamabad, it can join virtually… but it should not stop others from attending,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by PTI news agency at a press conference in Islamabad while highlighting the achievements of his ministry.  

India is making SAARC dysfunctional through its "stubbornness" by refusing to come to Islamabad for the Summit meeting, he alleged. 

South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional grouping which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The forum remained dysfunctional since 2016 when Pakistan was to host the summit but was canceled after India and many countries refused to participate in the wake of the Uri terror attack in Kashmir. 

Speaking on ties with India, the Pakistan foreign minister said there was no change in relations with India last year. Aggressive Hindutva, he claimed, adopted by the Indian government, has been sabotaging the prospect of good ties between the two countries.   

“Unfortunately, ties with India in 2021 were frozen. In our view, the potential of regional cooperation has been hit by aggressive Hindutva behavior in recent years," he said.

(SAM) 

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